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Dublin: -1°C Friday 16 April 2021
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McDowell ramps up the pressure in Wales

Defending champion moves to one shot off the Celtic Manor lead while McIlroy takes clubhouse lead at The Memorial.

Image: David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images

GRAEME MCDOWELL HAS left himself perfectly poised to retain his Welsh Open crown as he faces into the weekend’s play at Celtic Manor just one shot behind leader Alexander Noren.

The 2010 champion shot a three-under round of 67 this afternoon to move to seven-under par.

Victor Dubuisson and Jamie Donaldson are a further stroke back on six-under while overnight leader Keith Horne is among a group of players still very much in contention on five-under par.

After a slow start in which he dropped a shot on the very first hole, McDowell got into his stride around the bend, picking up four birdies in the space of five holes at 8, 9, 11 and 12.

Although he gave one of those strokes back almost immediately with a bogey five at the par-four 14th, the Portrush man made sure that he finished the round on a high, birdying the final hole to set himself up nicely for a weekend charge.

A double-bogey at the fifth set the tone for Damien McGrane’s second round at the Newport course today.

He started the day in a tie for sixth place but that double, along with dropped shots at 8, 10 and 13, undid much of his hard work. He finished the day with a two-over round of 73, dropping back to 14th place, six strokes off the lead.

Michael Hoey and Darren Clarke both remain on level par after their opening two rounds but Shane Lowry is in very real danger of missing the weekend cut after two more dropped shots saw him drop back to three-over for the tournament.

Meanwhile, over in Muirfield, Rory McIlroy finds himself in a share of the clubhouse lead after an even-par round of 72 that was anything but steady.

The youngster looked brilliant at times by making six birdies, bringing his total tally to 13 after the first two rounds, but undid all of his good work with four bogeys and a sloppy double on the 14th hole.

At the moment, he shares the lead on six-under par with Ricky Barnes, Jonathan Byrd and Australian Rod Pampling.

– Additional reporting by AP

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Niall Kelly

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